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9 Best Denzel Washington Movies Ranked

Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s most respected and talented actors, known for his powerful performances and charismatic screen presence. With a career spanning several decades, Washington has delivered a wide array of memorable roles. In this article, we’ll rank the nine best Denzel Washington movies, highlighting his versatility and exceptional talent. These rankings are based on critical acclaim, cultural impact, and Washington’s performance in each film.

Training Day (2001)

In this gritty crime drama, Denzel Washington plays Alonzo Harris, a corrupt narcotics detective who takes a rookie cop, played by Ethan Hawke, under his wing. Washington’s portrayal of Harris is both mesmerizing and terrifying, capturing the character’s moral ambiguity and raw power. His performance earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor, cementing his place as a formidable force in the acting world. “Training Day” is a must-watch for its intense storyline and Washington’s unforgettable role.

Malcolm X (1992)

Directed by Spike Lee, “Malcolm X” is a biographical epic that follows the life of the civil rights leader. Washington’s transformative performance as Malcolm X is nothing short of extraordinary. He embodies the complexity and evolution of Malcolm X, from his early days to his rise as an influential figure. The film received critical acclaim, and Washington’s performance is considered one of his best, earning him an Academy Award nomination. “Malcolm X” remains a powerful and relevant film, showcasing Washington’s ability to bring historical figures to life.

Glory (1989)

In this historical drama, Washington portrays Private Trip, a former slave who fights for the Union Army during the American Civil War. His powerful performance earned him his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. “Glory” tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first African American units in the Civil War. Washington’s portrayal of Trip is raw and emotional, capturing the pain and resilience of his character. This film is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during the Civil War and Washington’s talent in bringing those stories to the screen.

Philadelphia (1993)

“Philadelphia” is a powerful drama about a lawyer, played by Tom Hanks, who helps a gay man with AIDS fight against workplace discrimination. Washington plays Joe Miller, the conflicted attorney who takes on the case. His portrayal of Miller is layered and compelling, highlighting the character’s growth and evolving understanding of prejudice and compassion. “Philadelphia” was groundbreaking in its exploration of AIDS and homophobia, and Washington’s performance added depth and humanity to the film. It remains a significant piece of cinema that tackles important social issues.

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Fences (2016)

Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fences” stars Washington as Troy Maxson, a former baseball player struggling with race relations in 1950s Pittsburgh. Washington also directed the film, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. His portrayal of Maxson is intense and heartbreaking, capturing the character’s complexities and inner turmoil. The film’s powerful performances and thought-provoking themes make it a standout in Washington’s career. “Fences” is a testament to his skill both in front of and behind the camera.

The Hurricane (1999)

In this biographical drama, Washington plays Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongfully convicted of murder. Washington’s performance is deeply moving and inspiring, capturing Carter’s strength and determination to fight for justice. His portrayal earned him nominations for Best Actor at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes. “The Hurricane” tells a story of resilience and the quest for truth, with Washington delivering a performance that is both powerful and poignant. It’s a film that showcases his ability to portray real-life heroes with grace and authenticity.

American Gangster (2007)

“American Gangster” stars Washington as Frank Lucas, a real-life drug lord who rises to power in Harlem during the 1970s. His performance opposite Russell Crowe garnered widespread praise for its intensity and depth. Washington’s portrayal of Lucas is charismatic and chilling, capturing the complexity of a man who is both a ruthless criminal and a figure of power. The film’s exploration of crime, morality, and ambition makes it a compelling watch. Washington’s performance is a highlight, demonstrating his ability to dominate the screen in a commanding role.

Remember the Titans (2000)

In this inspirational sports drama, Washington plays Coach Herman Boone, who leads a racially integrated high school football team in Virginia. The film showcases Washington’s charisma and leadership skills, as he portrays a coach who inspires his team to overcome racial tensions and work together. “Remember the Titans” is an uplifting and heartwarming film, with Washington’s performance adding depth and authenticity to the story. It’s a film that highlights his ability to inspire and motivate both on and off the screen.

Inside Man (2006)

Directed by Spike Lee, “Inside Man” is a tense thriller in which Washington stars as Detective Keith Frazier, a cop negotiating with a clever bank robber played by Clive Owen. Washington’s performance adds depth to the cat-and-mouse game between the two characters, making the film a gripping and engaging watch. His portrayal of Frazier is sharp and intelligent, showcasing his talent for playing complex and multi-dimensional characters. “Inside Man” is a testament to Washington’s versatility and ability to elevate any role he takes on.